Hampers for the homeless

Drouin Secondary College students have been helping put together food hampers for the estimated 400 people who sleep rough or are homeless in Baw Baw Shire.
Fourteen students from the Leos group at the school joined more than 30 volunteers in packing 150 bags of groceries and other essential items to be distributed to individuals and families in need.
Debbie Brown from the Longwarry and District Lions Club co-ordinates the food relief program. She says the program is focussed on looking after the community.
"It's all about a hand-up, not a hand-out," says Mrs Brown.
Recipients of the program's food and supplies are not limited to those who are sleeping rough, couch surfing or homeless. Mrs Brown says many are dealing with mortgage stress and simply cannot afford the next meal.
"Some just need something to meet that gap between tonight and payday," says Mrs Brown.
"We don't turn anybody away," she says.
The food relief program works with kindergartens, Centrelink and school chaplains to determine who will receive food packages.
Volunteers deliver food packages to people across the Baw Baw region and as far away as Clyde.
In the packages are non-perishable items such as long-life milk, cereal, canned baked beans, Vita Brits, fruit jelly and cup-a-soup packets.
They employ a "rip, tear and share" concept -- every food item requires minimal preparation and are easy to open and eat cold.
The packages are put together every second Friday morning at Longwarry Public Hall although there are plans to make packing a weekly occurrence.
The group also helps deliver quiches cooked by Frankie's Community Kitchen in Warragul to those in need.
Longwarry Lions Club started doing school breakfasts eight years ago. In 2013 they began their work with the Foodbank. This is the first time the Leos at Drouin Secondary College have lent a hand.
In addition to the food packages, Longwarry and District Lions Club volunteers have also been putting together backpacks containing essential items like shampoo, razor blades, deodorant, tissues, toilet paper, a comb, soap, washer, toothbrush and toothpaste and sanitary items for women.
All supplies, including the backpacks, are purchased with donations.
Volunteers say many people sleep at picnic areas or service stations because of easy access to toilets. Some sleep in disabled toilets because they are dry and safe. There are showers for use at the Community House in Warragul. The Community House is also exploring the purchase of a washing machine.
The latest statistics, compiled from the 2016 census, reveal more than 100,000 people were homeless in Australia on census night, a 14 per cent jump since 2011.

    Posted in Drouin Secondary College, News

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